What’s on my (cook)bookshelf

Cooked up on July 7, 2011

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I may blog and read about recipes frequently, but I firmly believe that nothing can replace a good cookbook in your kitchen. So I thought I’d feature a couple every once in a while. Today’s theme is “Cookbooks that are Indispensible.”

As you may have noticed, we are not vegetarians. More on how and why is a post for another day. But this book, a gift from my good friend Karen, is absolutely irreplaceable in our kitchen. It is less a cookbook and more a textbook, explaining the science and techniques behind things and using a great strategy that allows you to expand beyond what Bittman writes. He’ll begin with a simple concept – a bean salad, for example, and then list ten different variations and suggestions for what direction to go in if you want to do more. The encouragement to take what you learn and run with it is the best part of this book.

This cookbook is definitely not a textbook. But it is really creative with just a few ingredients, and is a great solution for a weeknight dinner that’s not just the basics. For example, one of my favorites is a hot sandwich with freshly roasted bell peppers and heirloom tomatoes and a cream cheese-and-dill-based spread.  Another is blackened catfish with a roasted corn and tomato salsa. With this cookbook you can make something a little fun without actually having to run to the store – or you might run to the store and spend $5 on a pound of fish… and that’s all. One of my favorite wedding gifts we got was a big box of cookbooks, and this one was one of them.

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